British cartoonist, Ronald Searle CBE, known for his satirical creations of the wicked and well-armed pupils of St Trinian's, has died at the age of 91, Searle's family said on Tuesday.

His daughter Kate Searle said in a statement that the illustrator and artist "passed away peacefully in his sleep, with his children and grandson by his side". The artist died on Dec.30, 2011 after a short illness in a hospital in Draguignan, near Cannes.

Searle is regarded as one of the most popular and beloved cartoonists in the country who captured the imagination of generations of Britons with his spiky comic illustrations of the fictional girl's boarding school with their outrageous antics.

Searle was also known for his creations in the Molesworth series and had worked for the New Yorker, Walt Disney and Punch.

Born in March 1920, the artist started drawing at the age of five and underwent professional training at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. His art studies and career as a cartoonist were interrupted briefly during World War II after his enlistment in the Royal Engineers and his subsequent capture by the Japanese in Singapore.

He had to spend the rest of the war as a prisoner and was released only after the final defeat of the Japanese.

After his return from the war, he resumed his career as an artist and found success with his St Trinian's books and the Molesworth series.

Searle also recorded his time as a prisoner of war in drawings which he preserved with great care.

"I desperately wanted to put down what was happening, because I thought if by any chance there was a record, even if I died, someone might find it and know what went on," Searle had said.

Searle received many awards including those from America's National Cartoonists' Society and France's Legion d'Honneur. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004.